Golf Comment: Even greats sometimes need to feel they’ve earned right to win

Sam Torrance
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Justin Rose won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans with a course-record score of 22 under
WHEN it comes to golfing technique, there are two players who stand out from the current crowd, in my opinion: world No1 Rory McIlroy and England’s Justin Rose.

Rory’s swing has greater flair, is more dynamic and, when he is on song, is magnificent. Justin’s, meanwhile, has a smooth, Faldo-esque perfection to it; there is zero fuss about his game.

Sometimes even great players can be complacent, though. Sometimes they need to have worked hard on polishing their game even further before they feel they have earned the right to win.

There may have been a measure of that in Rose’s recent ascendancy, manifested in victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Sunday night with a course-record score of 22 under par.

He put in some intensive preparation for the Masters and, having duly put in his best display of the season to finish second in Augusta, he has reaped the rewards.

Cameron Tringale, who ended just one stroke adrift in New Orleans, was a little unlucky and hit a beauty of a shot into the last, but Rose was wonderful all weekend.

The new world No6 never seemed to put a foot wrong, playing his last 66 holes without dropping a shot. He kept one step ahead of the pack by doing the right things at the right time, such as the aggressive tee-shot at 17 and up-and-down at the last to birdie the final two holes.

Rose looks back to his brilliant best and this week’s WGC-Cadillac Match Play could just suit him. When you’re playing that well and only have to beat one player at a time, you fancy your chances.

Threats look likely to come from Jason Day, who was tied for fourth in New Orleans, red-hot Masters winner Jordan Spieth and perhaps Rose’s countryman Paul Casey.

You could add Lee Westwood to that list, following his victory at the Indonesian Masters at the weekend.

Westwood obviously feels comfortable with the playing conditions and the greens in that part of the world. It was his third win at the event and his seventh title on the Asian Tour in five years.

David Howell almost made it a clean sweep of English winners, finishing runner-up at the Volvo China Open. It would have been a travesty of justice, though, had Wu Ashun, who played so well and seemed to aim every shot right at the flag, not become the first Chinese player to win a European Tour event on home soil.

His success is also great news for the European Tour itself, as it presents enormous sponsorship opportunities with Asian brands.

Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam